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U.S. Patent Jun 12 2007 Sheet 4 0f4 US 7 229 280 B2
WICK HOLDER MAGNETIC RETENTION MEANS
This application constitutes a Continuation-In-Part of application Ser. No. l0/938,434, filed Sep. 10, 2004.
FEDERALLY SPONSORED RESEARCH OR DEVELOPMENT
BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
1. Field of the Invention
The present invention relates to a means for providing a locking mechanism to secure a wick clip or wick holder assembly in a melting plate candle or other candle assembly having a replaceable wick and/or fuel puck. This invention is most particularly designed to be used in a melting plate candle having means to provide a capillary feed between the wick holder and the melting plate, as well as in jar candles or conventional container candles.
2. Description of the Related Art
Clips which locate and secure wicks for candles and for devices wl1ich dispense vapors into the ambient air are well known in the art, and useful in many applications. In candles, such clips provide a means to position the wick for the most efficient provision of fuel, such as candle wax, to the flame, wl1ile in vapor dispensing devices, such wick clips secure a wick by which a vaporizable liquid is delivered from a reservoir to an exposed surface.
More recently, melting plate candles and simmer plate dispensers have been used to provide rapid melting of a solid fuel element and/ or rapid dispensing of a vaporizable material to the atmosphere. An example of such a dispensing device is shown in U.S. Pat. No. 6,780,382, issued Aug. 24, 2004, in which a dispenser for active materials is shown. This reference, incorporated herein by reference, illustrates a melting plate dispenser of volatile materials comprising a solid fuel containing active material, a consumable wick, and a heat conductive base having conductive elements, and the configuration of such elements.
In U.S. Pat. No. 6,802,707, issued Oct. 12, 2004, incorporated herein by reference, a melting plate candle comprising solid fuel, a consumable wick, a concave melting plate comprising a lobe by which heat is conducted from the flame upon the candle to the plate, and the configuration of such elements, are shown.
In addition to the above, in application Ser. No. 10/780, 028, filed Feb. l7, 2004, a candle comprising solid fuel, a melting plate, a lobe which engages a wick holder comprising a wick and conducting heat to said lobe and to said melting plate is taught, wherein said wick holder engages said lobe in such a manner as to create a capillary flow of melted fuel to the wick itself.
Still further, application Ser. No. 10/938,434, filed Sep. 10, 2004, of which the present application is a ContinuationIn-Part, teaches means to secure a wick clip to a melting plate by means of a skirt or spider legs, which clip over a pedestal in the melting plate or snap-fit into a recess in the melting plate.
In each of the above references, it is possible that the wick holder assembly, comprising the wick and wax puck, i.e. the fuel, may fall out of the container if the container or candle holder is tipped excessively, or tumed on its side, and it may
be difficult to precisely position the wick holder along the bottom of the candle container.
The present invention, designed for use with a candle holder or dispenser of actives as described above, but suitable for use with most fonns of container candles and/or dispensing devices, provides a means for retention of the wick holder at a specific central position, by use of a magnetic locking mechanism designed to be located in close proximity to, or within, a specifically positioned pedestal or depression or opening within the bottom of the container, and to magnetically hold the wick clip in position relative to this location.
Specifically, the preferred wick holder of the present invention comprises a wick holder designed to provide heat fins and a wick positioning holder, having a base designed to not only engage a similarly shaped portion of the bottom of the container in such a manner as to prevent its easy displacement from the bottom of the container, but to also create a capillary flow of melted wax, or liquefied active containing material, between the wick holder itself and the portion of the bottom by which it is engaged.
The engaging means, preferably located on the bottom of the container near the center thereof, is preferably a magnet positioned beneath a raised protrusion or pedestal, effectively a capillary lobe, by which the wick holder may be locked in place by means of magnetic metal included in the wick clip. Alternatively, the engagement means may comprise a depression in, or undercut portion of, the bottom of the container, under which a magnet is located. The wick holder or wick clip may comprise a structure of plastic or metal which cooperatively engages said pedestal or depression, and has a metal portion which may be attracted to a magnet located in or below said pedestal or depression. Other means for lockingly engaging the wick holder to the capillary pedestal, or the bottom surface, of the candle container are available, but for purposes of the present invention are to be limited to those magnetic engaging means which will prevent accidental displacement of the wick holder, but which may be overcome by the consumer so as to pennit replacement of the wick holder at the discretion of the consumer.
The present invention thus provides a candle or lamp device capable of rapidly and completely melting a solid fuel to fonn a large liquid pool, thereby improving distribution of any volatile materials present in the fuel, and ensuring efficient and complete utilization of all of the fuel provided, while providing increased safety and convenient refilling. Further, the concept of the present invention offers highly decorative as well as functional candles and lamps, which may utilize a variety of gel and solid fuels, with the significant advantages of pennitting rapid and convenient replacement of one fuel element by another at the desire of the consumer, without the need to clean or scrape the container in which said candle is utilized to remove a body of unburned fuel after the bulk of the previous fuel element has been consumed.
These and other embodiments of the invention shall be illustrated in the figures and description which follow.
BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
FIG. 1 illustrates the basic concept of a melting plate candle of the prior art, in simplified perspective view, of which the present invention constitutes an improvement.
FIG. 2 illustrates a basic melting plate candle, in simplified cross section, absent the locking wick holder of the present invention.
FIG. 3 is a simplified perspective view of a melting plate candle holder, showing the capillary pedestal, but absent the wick clip assembly and the candle.
FIG. 4 is a cross sectional view of the melting plate candle of the present invention, showing the candle holder, the melting plate, the wick clip assembly, and the fuel element in position.
FIG. 5 is an exploded view of a melting plate having a capillary pedestal, with a wick holder with fins and incorporated wick, and a fuel element.
FIG. 6 is a perspective view of the assembled melting plate, wick holder, and fuel element of FIG. 5.
DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
Ordinary candles comprise a vertical, self-supporting body or colunm of wax, with a substantially horizontal top and a central longitudinal wick which extends through and above the wax. The exposed portion of the wick above the solid wax is lighted by a flame, and the heat generated by the flame melts a small volume of the wax at the top of the candle, adjacent the wick, establishing a puddle or reservoir of molten wax to serve as fuel for the flame on the wick, and to release any volatile actives present therein. The capillary attraction of the molten wax and the wick, which is generally a structure of closely related fibers, causes the molten wax to travel through the wick to the flame, by which it is consumed. As the wax is consumed in this manr1er, the body of wax diminishes and the top surface thereof progressively lowers. The upper portion of the wick, extending above the lowering wax, is generally consumed by the flame. The flame in such a candle remains in the same position relative to the horizontal center of the candle, but decreases in height relative to the surface upon which the candle rests, from the start to the end of the bum, at which time all or at least most of the wax has been consumed.
Also well known are such candles as votive candles and tea lights. For purpose of discussion, tea lights shall be considered to be relatively small candles in which a body of paraffin is located in a closely fitted container, such as an aluminum tray configured to fit closely about the body of paraffin, having a wick centrally disposed, while votive candles shall be considered to be candles of similar size provided without a container. At the lower end of the wick is typically found a wick clip having a flat horizontal bottom surface, which functions to retain the wick in its perpendicular position, even as the paraflin is melted and liquefied by the heat of the flame. In most such votive candles and tea lights, the wick is a cotton material saturated with paraflin, and bums with the paraflin, thus being consumable. In such candles, or lights or warmers employing the same, the visible flame moves lower, or closer to the bottom surface of the container as the fuel and wick are consumed, down to the level of the bottom of the wick. Further, after consumption of all of the wax above this point in the ur1it, the container (of the tea light), the unburned wax, and the wick clip remain to be disposed of by the consumer. As a safety consideration in such candles, the wick is nonnally crimped or terminated at a point about 0.25 inches above the bottom of the wax, so as to cause the flame to extinguish above the bottom of the container, and to thus prevent the heat of the flame from reaching the surface upon which the candle is positioned, preventing damage to such surface, and reducing the like
lihood of igniting possible contaminants such as bumt matchsticks remaining at the bottom of the candle, or carbonaceous remains of the consumable wick. Such an arrangement also has the detriment of leaving a small volume of unburned wax in the bottom of the container when the flame extinguishes.
As utilized herein, the tenn melting plate candle shall encompass the combination of a solid fuel element and a heat conductive container or holder for the fuel. The terms fuel container and fuel holder shall be meant to encompass a support plate or melting plate comprising means to contain and melt the fuel element, and a wick holder engaging a wick and said support plate, said wick holder comprising heat conductive elements, such as fins, referred to hereinafter as either wick fins or heat fins. Said wick holder shall also encompass a base having a skirt configured to engage a complimentarily shaped pedestal portion of the support plate, and to transfer heat from a flame upon said wick to said melting plate. Thus, the support plate functions to hold the fuel element, to retain the wick holder, and to conduct heat to the solid fuel element to thereby melt said fuel element to provide a liquid fuel to feed to the flame via the wick. Moreover, the base portion of the wick holder engages, by the use of a magnetic means, a pedestal on the surface of said support or melting plate in such a manner as to resist detachment from the melting plate, while also providing a means for transporting liquid fuel from the support plate to the wick by capillary action. Thus, the pedestal to which the wick holder is attached may be referred to as a capillary pedestal, whereas in previous melting plate candles, in which no locking or attachment means is present to secure the wick holder to the base of the melting plate, the wick holder is said to engage a capillary lobe. The capillary pedestal of the present invention may thus be considered to be a capillary lobe having a magnetic or other means by which a wick holder may be engaged so as to resist accidental displacement. The wick holder may thus be considered to be locked in place to the capillary pedestal, although it is removable by the consumer for replenislnnent of the wick and/or the fuel element, by exertion of suflicient force to overcome the engaging magnetic force. As will be appreciated, the manufacturer may provide melting plate devices, wicks and wick holder assemblies, and solid fuel elements, either together, or independently (separately), and the consumer may join the separate elements to form a melting plate candle, fuel burner, or dispenser of active materials, with the option to change wicks and fuel elements at will. In a preferred embodiment of the invention, the wick, wick holder, and fuel element may be provided as a unitary replacement element to be utilized with a separately provided melting plate.
A key element of the present invention constitutes a capillary pedestal on the melting plate, which pedestal provides a locating device for a complementarily shaped wick holder, creates a site for capillary feed of fuel to the wick, and provides a means for heat transfer from the flame to both the melting plate and the solid fuel. The wick holder, in addition to providing a mounting means for the wick, has a base which closely confonns to the capillary pedestal in such a manner as to create a capillary feed by which melted wax flows to the wick as fuel. Moreover, the capillary pedestal of the present invention is configured so as to engage said wick holder by a magnet located in or below said pedestal in such a manner that the wick holder may not be easily or accidentally removed from said pedestal. This may be accomplished, for example, by means of a magnet located on the under side of the pedestal, which magnet